January-October 1859

The Collected Letters, Volume 35


TC TO CHARLES GAVAN DUFFY ; 13 April 1859; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18590413-TC-CGD-01; CL 35: 69-71


Chelsea, London, 13 April, 1859—

Dear Duffy,

I confess I have been remiss in writing to you; shamefully so, if you did not know the circumstances, or believe in them without knowing! To want of remembering you I will by no means plead guilty; and I have had two letters, or one and a half (with excellent continuation by Mrs Callan)1 which were heartily welcomed,—welcomer than hundreds that did get answer of some kind! The truth is I have [been]2 swimming in bottomless Abysses, whipt and whirled about as man never was, for long years past; and there are still many months of it ahead:—it was after all this should have once rolled itself away, that I always meant to write to you; a free man once more (no Prussian or other rubbish crushing the life out of me); till whh fine consummation, tho’ my conscience did a little bark upon me now and then, it barked to no purpose as you have seen! This is the true history of that phenomenon; & I leave it with you.

As I said, there are months and twelvemont[h]s3 still of that sad Prussian Operation pressing on me; and one knows not how long the foolish speechlessness might have lasted,—had it not been for a message that arrived this morning, the Letter here inclosed; which cannot brook being neglected by me. I shove Friedrich aside therefore (more luck to him); and hasten, with a bad or good grace, to do the needful.

Please read carefully that inclosed Letter from Macready4 to me: it will bring the whole case accurately before you; and if you can do anything in it, I will earnestly request you, for my sake withal, to do it with your best might. I know not if you are aware, as I am, that the private worth and merits of Mr Macready senior are of the highest order; a man of scrupulous veracity, correctness, integrity,—a kind of Grandisonian5 style of magnanimity, both in substance and manner, visible in all his conduct;—I have often said, Looking at his ways as a public person: “Here is Playhouse Manager, dependent on the populace for everything; and there is no Bishop of Souls in England who dare appeal to the truth, and defy the Devil & his Angels, except this very singular “Bishop” whose diocese is Drury-Lane!”6 In fact I greatly esteem the man; and his domestic losses and distresses (loss of an excellent noble little wife; loss of Child after Child, so soon as they grew up; loss of &c &c) have filled me and others with sympathy for him in these years.7 I add only that he is an Irishman (that his wife was Irish,—a pretty little being, whom I think he found an Actress, and whom he left a high and real gentlewoman in her sphere):8—so that you see the whole case is Irish: and if Macready junr,9 whom I do not know, but whose Father's account of him I credit to the last particular, can be launched on an honest career, and made useful among his fellow creatures, it will be, on every side, in the line of your vocation.——This I think is about the substance of all I had to say; you will take it all for truth, my exactest notion of the truth: and there I must leave it with you. The young man will appear in person, and you can take survey of him: what is fairly feasible I have no doubt you will do; and I need not repeat that it wd be pleasant to me among its other results. So enough.

The “Township of Carlyle” (more power to it!) amused us very much, and there was in it a kind of interest, pathetic and other, whh was higher than amusement. “Stuart Mill Street,” “Sterling Street” (especially Jane Street):10 I cd almost have wept a little (had any tears now remained me) at those strange handwritings on the wall: stern and sad, the meaning of them to me, as well as laughable. In short it is a very pretty device;—and if in the chief square or place they one day put the Statue of C.G.D. himself, when he has become head of the Colony11 and led it into the good way (whh is far off just now!) I shall by no means be sorry.— For the rest, the Plans &c of Carlyle are firmly bound, and secured, along with a learned volume of Scottish Antiquarian Topography,12 and there wait till they become antique if possible. I send the most cordial regards to Mrs Callan, amiable much-suffering Lady. I am, as of old Yours truly T. Carlyle

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Plan of the Township of Carlyle ([May 1858])

Courtesy of The National Trust